Sam Strange Remembers: DAREDEVIL

The Hollywood legend recalls the time he made a disabled superhero movie.

Just because most comic book movies are bad, people automatically assume they're easy to make. And usually they are. But sometimes a character won't translate to screen well or the filmmaker calling the shots just doesn't give a shit. Daredevil had both problems.

I never thought I'd make a Daredevil film. Then, Ben Aflac told me how much he always wanted to play the character. That same day, Colin Ferrell told me how he dreamed of someday playing Bullseye. That night, Jennifer Lopez told me her lifelong ambition was to play Electra in a Daredevil movie. Then she died, and Jennifer Gardener told me the same thing at her funeral.

I sure didn't understand the appeal, but I figured I'd give it a shot anyway. With so much enthusiasm coming from so many marketable people, recouping production cost was a given. Raw serendipity has never overcome obvious miscasting before, but there's a first time for everything. Plus, I needed to fill the roster for my upcoming Avengers movie. So what the fuck, I made a Daredevil film.

Daredevil's a tricky superhero because his power is really stupid. As a child, he was sprayed in the face with pink sludge, turning his eyes into pink sludge eyes, which is impossible to see through. But like all blind people, loss of sight only heightens Daredevil's other senses. He just has that slight pink sludge edge.

Daredevil has a super sense of smell, which means he's constantly distracted by how horribly the world stinks. If a criminal wears a very distinctive perfume, Daredevil can follow him to hell and back so long as he doesn't run into any stronger smell on the way. This makes him kind of like a dog. Example: He can smell oncoming rain, and it makes him run around in circles.

Daredevil also has super sense of feel, which means every time he punches someone it hurts his hand REALLY BAD. When someone punches him, the pain makes him piss his suit and go fetal. There are benefits too, though. It makes reading braille really easy. But more than that, super feeling somehow manages to turn Daredevil into an acrobat capable of jumping whole city blocks.

But those are mere parlor tricks compared to Daredevil's hyper sense of hearing. Daredevil can hear everything. It's so annoying that he has to sleep in a water-filled casket to block all the noise, and having a conversation with him is nearly impossible because he's constantly yelling "Huh! What'd you say!? My hearing is so good that every other sound in the world is drowning you out, Froggy!" Sometimes, if the sounds are annoying enough, they give him a shadowy sonar image of his surroundings, but if the sounds are too loud the image distorts. So it only works in the most average situations possible.

Daredevil figures all this adds up to a super power. A blind guy who can see half as well as a regular person is pretty extraordinary, after all. He thinks he can use this tool to stop crime in Hell's Kitchen, which is run by The Kingpin Gordon Ramsey. The first thing he does is buy a blind guy walking stick that can also function as a baton, nun-chucks, and grappling hook. Then he gets a red leather outfit that doesn't look completely gay (unfortunately, he has to take the gay clerk's word for it). After that, he finds a mask derivative of Batman's without looking like a total ripoff. So instead of bat ears the mask has devil horns. They're real stubby like a cat's, though, so instead of calling him Daredevil, most people erroneously call him Mister Pussy-Pussy. He also covers the mask's eye holes so everyone fighting him can tell he's disabled and adjust accordingly.

Things are hard for Daredevil from the get-go. Chasing a bad guy into a subway, he finally realizes how little he can actually see. And when a train goes by, blinding him with sound, he really starts to get scared and cry. This is why common criminals learn to know him as "The Blind Guy with Fear." Everyone feels sorry for him, so they let him punch them a few times before running away.

By night Daredevil teems with a Christian Bale level grittiness and melancholy. By day he prances through life with a Ben Aflac level comic timing and charm. He works as a lawyer, but business is bad, not just because he only takes pro bono cases for innocent people but because he has to yell everything he says over all the crazy noise assaulting his super ears at all times. Luckily, he has a chubby sidekick who can handle some of this stuff for him. Mostly what he does is listen to witnesses' heartbeats to tell if they're lying. If they are, he says "You are lying!" If they say, "No I'm not!" he kills them later that night as Daredevil. That's basically the gist of his whole enterprise.

Things get more complicated, however, when he meets Electra Glide. She just kind of walks into his life on footsteps that tell him ahead of time how hot she is (well, tell him that she's not a fatty, anyway). He hits on her, but she acts uninterested. Her heartbeat, body heat, and seismic mini-multi-orgasms say otherwise, however, so when she pretends to run away he follows.

This leads to a whole thing where they have a flirty fight amongst children's playground equipment. A lot of directors like to have their actors train for martial art scenes or maybe replace them with CG stuntmen, but as a lost cause to begin with, I just kind of let Ben Aflac and Jennifer Gardener choreograph and act in their own little bullshit kung-fu sequence. The results look only a little worse than the bullshit kung-fu sequences you and your friends came up with when you were kids. They do a bunch of stances that they think look cool but actually look really stupid. When they're not doing that, they jump on see-saws and rebelliously run up slides and come back down headfirst. Shit like that.

The fight ends with them falling in love. Unfortunately, Electra's father is a really powerful criminal in cahoots with The Kingpin Gordon Ramsey who has hired a dangerous assassin to take him out. This assassin's name is Bullseye. This guy sort of combines the sickening physicality of a sleazy serial rapist with the repulsive social prowess of a thirteen year old wrestling fan. Bullseye wasn't born with superpowers, but as a child a group of drunk Irishmen cut a dartboard into his forehead and had a game, destroying the part of his brain that makes him miss things. Therefore, he hits every target he shoots for, regardless of how hard he tries. This has made him cocky on top of my previous metaphors. To make him even more cocky, he's played by Colin Ferrell.

So Bullseye takes out Electra's father. Daredevil tries to stop that from happening but Bullseye does this thing where he slaps his scar every time he's about to throw something, and the sound it makes ruins Daredevil's sonar. Bullseye also has a one-up on Daredevil's superpowers because, as an Irishman, grain alcohol robbed him of sight long ago, so he has an ideally minimized version of Daredevil's "superpower".

Still, Daredevil has some tricks up his sleeve. So long as Bullseye makes noise, but not too much noise, he can dodge whatever is thrown at him, even catching it sometimes and throwing it back. This pisses Bullseye off, so he kills Electra and runs away to lick his wounds, or have the old lady he met on the airplane over lick them for him.

Daredevil mourns Electra and promises to kill Bullseye. He figures he should be easy to find because he smells just like stale cigarettes and cough drops. Unfortunately, when Bullseye ran away, he crossed paths with a hotdog vendor, so Daredevil can't follow him very far.

Luckily, Bullseye wants a rematch, so the two meet in a church famous for it's 1,000 foot tall organ pipes. Knowing he's walking into an audible trap, Daredevil prepares by visiting his Q-figure, an overweight talker of words played by Kevin Smith, who at one point winks at the camera and says "I'm Kevin Smith and I approve of this message." He gives Daredevil a pair of ear plugs.

Daredevil and Bullseye hop around organ pipes and throw things at each other until both parties are nearly too tired to continue. At this point, Daredevil pulls out his REAL secret weapon: A handful of strippers. Daredevil can't see them because they don't make noise, but Bullseye can because his blindness has a tit-exception. They distract him just long enough for Daredevil to throw him out a window. Bullseye's last words are, "Worth it," after which Kevin Smith pops on screen again to approve the message.

Anyway, the movie ends at this point, but if you wait until the credits are over, you get to see a very exciting additional twenty minutes…

Having killed his first super villain, Daredevil figures he's now cool enough to join the Avengers, so he visits Nick Fury and makes his case. Fury looks over his file very carefully before dismissing him as an asshole. Daredevil cries.

(three stars)

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